With the official start of the 2012 Presidential campaign still on the horizon, a new Pew Poll shows Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee beginning to put some distance between themselves and the other potential candiates. Romney and Huckabee garner 21% and 20% respectively, whille Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich fill the 3rd and 4th place slots, some 8-10 points back. For the past year or so polling has shown the four Republicans closely grouped together.
The poll is good news for Romney, who posts very strong support among GOP conservatives, moderates and theTea Party. In fact Romney's widest margins are with Tea Party supporters at 24%, against the oft presumed Tea Party darling, Sarah Palin, who only manages a paltry 12% level of support. Tea Party supporters place Palin fourth, as she trails Huckabee's 19% and Gingrich at 15%. Overall, Palin earns 13% among the GOP, a further indication her favorability and electabilty issues are impacting her.
Romney's strong showing among Conservatives, tieing Hucakee for the lead at 20%, is contiued evidence he is shoring up support with this key voter block. Romney's Tea Party support, which up to now was suspect, has to be encouraging, especially in light of his recent defense of his health care plan, as well as his expressed concerns about a splintering off for third party support.
The remainder of the GOP field - Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Haley Barbour, Ron Paul and Chris Christe - were all backfield, clustered in single digiets.
The full story and some interesting graphs can be read here.